Humanitarian aid for vulnerable people in Venezuela
Venezuela continues to be affected by the biggest economic crisis in its history. The economic decline and political uncertainty are affecting an exhausted population: About a quarter of all children suffer from acute malnutrition. 80% of the households are reporting that they do not have enough money to cover their basic food needs Basic services such as the health system are paralyzed, their infrastructure is crumbling and workers either have migrated or receive insignificant salaries.
HEKS/EPER is providing a multi-faceted support to public services and directly to the population. In Apure State, HEKS is implementing an integral intervention focused on bringing 16 health centers (including two referral hospitals) and 23 schools (primary and secondary levels) through infrastructure rehabilitation, in particular water supply, sanitation and waste management. HEKS is also providing livelihood support to students of four technical schools, so that much-needed businesses can be established and significant incomes could be generated.
Supporting a declining health system, and the communities surrounding them
As a result, more than 250 000 people in Apure State have improved their access to health services. As a complement to the work in the health structures, HEKS/EPER collaborates directly with the communities surrounding them. Provision of clean water, promotion of health practices and information on Gender-based Violence (GBV) are pillars of our work, made sustainable by the configuration and promotion of local committees.
Supporting schools, from pre-school to vocational training centers
The educational system was another victim of the economic crisis. Most of the time teachers do not receive any salary. Moreover, schools have been closed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and their buildings were very often used as army barracks or transit points for migrants. They face similar problems as the health centers, with run-down facilities, no water supply, broken bathrooms, no desks nor chairs.
HEKS/EPER is supporting 16 primary schools and seven technical schools in Apure State, very often in rural environments. For most of them, HEKS’ intervention makes the difference between children receiving an education and those staying at home without any access to formal education. On top of infrastructure rehabilitation, provision of clean water and incentives to teachers, HEKS/EPER is starting a pilot project to support livelihood projects implemented by a selected group of vocational schools, in order to jumpstart their productive processes and generate income. More than 5000 people (children and teachers) benefit from HEKS’ need-based school projects.
Soup kitchens for the poorest in El Nula, Apure State
The crisis-affected people coming every day to the soup kitchen at the Baptist Church parsonage in El Nula on the Colombian border are mostly grandparents, pregnant women as well as mothers and children who have been left behind and are often homeless. Thanks to the soup kitchen, these particularly vulnerable people can have at least one warm meal a day (if needed, delivered at home) or they receive a monthly food package.
Paola Fernández and her three children (see photo right) are a typical example. The family comes from a small town in eastern Venezuela. Driven by hunger and the search for work, the mother and father together with their three children walked 120 kilometers to the capital. There they soon realized that it was almost impossible to earn an income. The story of Paola Fernández and her family is also that of many other people in Venezuela. They are in urgent need of support.
Food and hygiene products for vulnerable persons
The crisis, and many years of inflation, have put basic groceries out of reach for a very big part of Venezuelans. 94% of the population live under the poverty line so, for most of the population, finding food has become a struggle, particularly in urban contexts.
In the states of Miranda (suburban Caracas) and Lara, HEKS/EPER delivers monthly food packages to 500 families, targeting those most in need, primarily the elderly and women-led households. In both cases, and in a pattern that is very common in the country, main breadwinners have migrated abroad and left dependents behind, with no sources of income, and unable to fend for themselves.
At the same time, the families receive a basic set of toiletries, aimed at helping them to maintain hygienic standards and to avoid spending money that can be then redirected to the acquisition of food.